Bonfire, BBQ, Baptism and Game Night

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It’s been a busy couple days! First some fun stuff – Thursday night the kids and I went for a walk. After our walk we stopped at the park and played for a bit. Then we went home and I took Annika’s training wheels off her bike and we practiced riding her bike. She was getting so good! And she was so excited. We were in the backyard in the grass going down some of the little hills back there. She didn’t quite get the hang of it. She’d turn back to watch me or she’d stop peddling and go too slow or something and fall over. We tried it on the driveway too and a few times she’d get it but going faster on the blacktop would scare her and then she’d fall over again. I was so proud of her though!

Saturday was our annual BBQ for family and friends. Kris and I spent Friday and Saturday cleaning, shopping and cooking. So much prep work! Friday after spending the day cleaning (and playing with the kids and Kris going to work) we went to my Aunt Kathy and Uncle Danny’s house for a bonfire. The kids had an awesome time! Kris took James for a ride on their 4-wheeler. James loved that and later in the night he went for another ride with Aunt Kathy. And both kids spent pretty much the whole time in their hammock, swinging away. Poor Uncle Dale (their request) had to spend most of his time over by the hammock swinging instead of by the adults talking. Hopefully he was OK with that. My cousin Grant played a trick on them one time. He crawled under the hammock and poked them as they swung by. They were so scared! Later in the evening Uncle Dale talked Annika into crawling under Grant’s cloth camping chair and poking him through it. He jumped so high! It was hilarious! Go Annika! Kris and I spent the night chatting with others (well, kind of, we’re not big chatters). Finally after 11:30pm we rounded up the kids and headed for home. A late night for them!

Saturday we slept in a little bit and then scrambled to get the rest of the BBQ prep done. The kids and I went to the grocery store. Kris stayed home and cleaned (what an awesome guy! Even if I didn’t show my full appreciation when I got back home – stress can bring out the worst in me – sorry honey!). We were pretty much ready b y the time the first guests showed up. That was with the help of Auntie Carrie and Uncle Adam. They arrived early and helped cut vegetables and such for us. Thank you! I got some absolutely adorable pics of Isak while they ran an errand to Ikea too. I promise I’ll post pics soon of everything (Dells vacation, wedding, BBQ, etc.).

The BBQ was a lot of fun too. There were so many kids there this year (I guess that happens as you get older – your friends all have kids too) and Annika and James absolutely loved it. They were in and out of the bounce house (a big hit with the other kids in attendance). They were playing in their rooms. Annika got upset once when the letters in her room that spell Annika got knocked over (they’re up on a shelf) so she came and got me and I had to stand them back up for her. I guess she even told the other kids to not knock them down. Bossy little thing! James’ train table in his room was very popular too. Of course what goes better than little boys and trains though, right? We had an eclectic group of people again. Family (both sides), college friends, work friends, neighbors. I love how we have everybody together at once. That means I don’t get to talk to any one for very long but I usually get to talk to everyone a little. We had enough food (my main worry with that many people coming) and we even have a ton of leftovers. No grocery shopping necessary this week! The last people (Amanda and Dean) left about 11pm. That was a long party since it started at 4pm! So fun. Kris and I always look forward to the BBQ. Kris even got out the Aquavit to share this year. (Yuck!)

Sunday we were up early to head to another party. This time it was baptism for Kris’ cousin’s children down in Rochester. The baptism was a beautiful event, with most of the family present. I got to hold baby Isak during the baptism (Auntie Carrie and Uncle Adam were busy being sponsors) and man was that fun! Annika was cooing and loving on him like mad. She would stroke his head or his hand, then lean in and kiss his forehead, then giggle and squeal over how cute he was. So cute! Jamesy came over too and basically did the same thing. Neither one showed any jealousy over Mom holding a baby. They both wanted to just play with the baby instead. After the baptism (and a quick Target trip) we went to the house for the baptism party. We got the kids to eat as much as we could (which wasn’t much) and then it was time for swimming suits. There were slip ‘n slides and pools and water toys to play with – no time to eat! And play they did, for hours! We finally got them in for some cake, a change of clothes and then in the car for the long ride home. They weren’t too happy to leave. They wanted to play some more.

Jamesy had swimming lessons on Sunday which is why we had to leave Rochester a bit early. I think he’s bored with swimming lessons. He knows how to blow bubbles, scoop, kick, jump off the side, etc. All he wants to do is go down the slide. He humors me though with doing all the tricks.

After lessons I called Mathias. He had been out on the lake all day with Grandpa, Marcia, Krystle and Pierce. (Kris was very jealous – he wanted to be out boating too – maybe we can go sometime soon.) Mathias, Krystle and Pierce came over to our house that night and we played a board game, Wits and Wagers and ate leftovers from Saturday. It was so fun! I had to smack talk my brother a little bit. Too bad he won both games we played. I said my good-byes to Mathias, got a couple last pictures in and then they left about 10pm. (Mathias left for home today – I miss him already!)

And here we are at today. Two days down this week. I have some work to do tonight after I get this entry up. And kids to bathe. And pictures to upload. And. And. And. It never ends, does it?!

Krystle’s Wedding

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My baby sister got married this weekend.  I cried like a baby during the ceremony.  She was glowingly beautiful.  Bride magazine cover worthy.  Here’s the play by play:

Let’s start back at Friday.  Friday was a good day too.  I started out the morning with a 5 mile run.  Love running.  Clears the head.  Then after a quick shower and the last of the packing, Krystle and I were off.  We had a spa day on the agenda.  Love massages!  My only problem this time was the room I was in was next to the pedicure area and every once in a while there would be laughter or conversation breaking my tranquil peacefulness.  Then there was a yummy lunch and then it was pedicure and manicure time!  Spa days are great.  I wish they came around more often!  After the spa we drove to the hotel, checked in, unloaded the vehicles, changed our clothes, did our hair, greeted our Mom and brother (yay!) and walked over to rehearsal.  The wedding was at Mill City Museum and the ceremony was outside in the courtyard.  The rehearsal was a little chilly Friday night with temps in the 60′s and us in our dresses and short sleeves.  We lined up outside on West River Parkway and then walked inside.  Annika and James, as the flower girl and ring bearer, were to follow me, as matron of honor, down the aisle and then go sit by Gramme in the first row.  And they did during the rehearsal.  I explained to them what was going to happen, we practiced, now I just had to worry about Saturday.  Cute and funny moment from rehearsal: While running through the ceremony part Jamesy decided he needed his own chair to sit on next to Grandpa so he went over to the other side of the aisle, grabbed a plastic chair and pulled it over so it was next to Grandpa and then he sat down.  Then he got down and pulled the chair so it was touching Grandpa’s and climbed back up to cuddle with Grandpa.  Next cute and funny story: While waiting for practice walking I explained to Annika and James what was going to happen and where they were to go.  I said they could go sit by Daddy, Marcia, Grandpa, Gramme or Papa Merv.  Jamesy immediately threw his hand in the air and yelled “I’m sitting by Grandpa!”  as if to say “Dibs!”  Too cute.

After rehearsal we walked over to The Old Spaghetti Factory for the grooms dinner.  Dinner was of course yummy.  Annika insisted on sitting by Gramme and James insisted on sitting by Grandpa.  That worked out well!  Kris and I basically had dinner to ourselves!  Krystle and Pierce gave a nice speech thanking everyone for coming and being involved in the wedding.  Krystle started the speech but got about three words in before she started crying and Pierce had to take over.  Then they handed out the wedding party and parent gifts.  I received a black purse, earrings and necklace.  All for the big day of course.  They were all so great!  Annika received a Barbie dressed as a bride (big hit!), a Tinkerbell movie and a pink purse filled with lip gloss and nail polish.  Score!  James received the Wall-E movie and a car/ramp toy.  Another big hit!  Dinner was over fairly early so I said good-bye to the kids and Kris and headed back to the hotel with Krystle, Heidi and Nicole.

We are such party animals that we changed clothes, went to the hotel bar for a drink (water for me) and then were tired so we went up to the room and watched a movie (Rachel Getting Married).  And then we went to bed.  Asleep by 11pm.  Watch out for the crazy girls in the suite!

Krystle and I were up by 7:30am the next morning, got dressed and ran some errands.  Krystle purchased breakfast and lunch items for us girls and the guys.  We were back at the hotel by 9am.  The make-up artist wasn’t supposed to arrive until 11am.  Time to kill!  Krystle was calm but restless if that makes any sense.  I think she just wanted to get the show on the road.  She kept busy by going to get ice for the cooler of water, taking pictures of me on the computer and generally putzing around the suite.  Nicole and Heidi arrived with their hair done and Mom and Annika arrived too.  My baby girl wasn’t the least bit excited to see me I think.  She was way too excited to tell me all about how she got to ride in her car seat in Gramme’s car and how she talked, talked, talked the whole way down to the hotel.  Then she wanted Gramme and Gramme only to color with her and play stickers with her at the table in the room.  Mom was not needed.

I was first up for make-up.  I think this was only the second time ever that I’ve had my make-up done professionally.  The only other time?  My own wedding.  My make-up was fine but she had us all wear lip gloss which is very odd for me.  I’m not used to that goopy, sticky feeling of lip gloss.  I think I kept subconsciously wiping it off.  Ah well.  She used the same shade on all of us (with different pencil colors used underneath I think) so we all shared a lip gloss the rest of the day for reapplications.

After make-up I was in the chair for hair.  I don’t usually go to a male hair dresser and I have to admit I was a little intimidated by him.  Maybe that’s just because he has a healthy ego.  Heh.  Anyway, my hair turned out cute (half up) even if it didn’t stay in or curled the whole night.  He may be good, but he can’t work magic!

After we were all fancied up it was time to move all my belongings plus Annika and James’ wedding attire to our hotel room so Gramme and Kris could get them dressed after I had left for pictures.  Then it was time to get Krystle dressed.  She was absolutely gorgeous!  Her photographer was there and got some great pics of her in the room.  He was such a monkey climbing all over furniture to get great shots.  Those two left so Krystle could see Pierce privately and get pictures started.  The rest of us girls got our dresses on and headed downstairs to wait for the wedding party pictures to begin.

We did a bunch of pictures at the hotel, Aloft.  The hotel has a pretty cool lounge/bar/lobby area that we got some great pics in.  Then we walked to a nearby park for pictures and then on to Mill City for family pics.  The only snafu of the afternoon?  Kris forgot his suit pants at home!  He realized this at 3:45pm (after arriving downtown at his wife-mandated time of 3:30pm) and needed to be at Mill City with the kids at 4:15pm.  No time to run home!  So he went to Macy’s downtown and found the first pair of pants the kind of fit him and ran back.  A $60 pair of Kenneth Cole pants later and he made it with time to spare.  Great job Kris!  Now don’t forget your pants next time, goof!  Family pictures over and done with and then it was time to hide!  Almost go time!

We all lined up at the back of Mill City and I reminded the kids again about what to expect.  I still wasn’t very sure they’d walk down the aisle (which was entirely straight to the guests, not in between them like a traditional aisle).  Mathias was first.  He did have to make four trips back and forth, seating Great Grandma, Gramme, Marcia and then walking his bridesmaid Cara down.  After he made his last trip and Pierce had walked down his parents and stayed down there waiting for us, it was time for the rest of us, first Nicole, then Heidi, then myself.  My groomsman, Luke, was waiting with Pierce down at the end of the aisle.  After I walked (and tried my hardest to smile through my choked up self) I got to my spot and turned around just in time to see my babies coming down the aisle.  They did it!  They did it perfectly!  OK, they were a little off to one side but they held hands and walked slowly and did everything just right.  I told Annika that she was the big sister and that she had to help Jamesy down the aisle and you could see her every so often whisper something to James, probably something like “C’mon Buddy.”  And they walked right over to  Gramme and sat down and waited for Grandpa to walk Krystle down the aisle.

And then I lost it.  I was OK watching my own children come down but when Krystle turned that corner and I saw her crying?  Goner.  I should have had a tissue with me.  Instead I just wiped away the tears as they fell.  She was so beautiful.  Dad gave her to Pierce and the ceremony started.  I had to do a reading, a poem, and I’d practiced and wasn’t nervous at all.  In fact I had read it for the girls (minus Krystle) before we put our dresses on.  It went pretty well too.  I only choked up once, when at the end of the second line I made the mistake of looking at Krystle.  I just ignored her the rest of the poem and then it went fine!  Their readings and vows were beautiful (I heard many comments on what a nice ceremony it was) and then it was time for the recessional.  Party time!

I got my first glass of wine for the evening and started chatting with guests as they were dismissed and greeted by Krystle and Pierce.  Then I had more pictures to take!  The Stone Arch Bridge is nearby Mill City so the wedding party went out there for some last shots.  I think those are going to turn out really cute as well.  We finally made it back to the museum only to dash to our tables to officially start dinner.  The guests had already been served their salads.  We were gone for a little longer than anticipated I think.  More wine and champage and a yummy dinner.  Then there was my speech.  I basically just stood up and winged it.  I had made mental notes about a couple topics (hair braids, baby sister, soccer vs football, welcoming Pierce to family, etc.) and tried to intertwine jokes throughout.  You know, as I get older I get more and more comfortable speaking in front of people.  I kind of like being up there and the center of attention!  Then Pierce’s brother gave a nice speech and we resumed dinner.

After dinner the dance started right away.  With the wedding not starting until 6pm it made for a quick evening with one thing leading right into another.  It was a bit of a whirlwind!  I made it to the photobooth a half dozen times through the night.  Krystle and Pierce rented a photobooth and used it as their guest book.  It was a great idea and all the guests loved it!  There was always a line to get pictures taken.  Some of my favorite are of Kris and I, Krystle and I, Annika and I (Jamesy didn’t make it in the booth), and Amanda and I.  My favorite one of all though?  A close up side shot of Amanda’s belly.  It is just so beautiful!

I didn’t see too much of the kids once the dance started.  Why?  Because no one could peel them off the dance floor of course!  Why didn’t Jamesy make it into the photobooth?  Because he passed out on the dance floor about 9pm.  I could tell he was getting tired.  I got a dance in with him laying his head on my chest then Uncle Dale came and took him from me.  Minutes later he was passed out on Dale’s shoulder.  I held him for a while after that, then Kris held him, then he slept on a bench for a while before my cousin Rachel took over and held him.  I danced with Annika to Poker Face (Lady Gaga) of course.  As soon as she heard the song come on she raced over to me and jumped in my arms.  She was so happy and excited to be dancing all night long.  That’s my little party girl!  The rest of the time she was busy dancing with everyone and anyone who would dance with her.  She too almost passed out on the dance floor though.  She told me she was tired and wanted to go back to the hotel so I brought her to Gramme.  Hey, Gramme volunteered to take them back to the hotel when they got tired so I took her up on that!  Gramme wasn’t quite ready to leave yet though so Annika slept in her lap while Gramme chatted some more with her friends.  When Gramme was finally ready to leave I took James from Rachel and rounded up a couple cousins (strapping young men Ryan W and Matt R) to walk us back to the hotel.  Ryan carried Annika for Gramme.  What sweet guys!  They even walked us right up to our room, stayed there while I got the kids settled (Jamesy was up crying for me when we left but Gramme assures me he only wimpered for another minute or two and then settled back down to sleep.) and then walked me back to the reception.  I’m loving them both!

Now with both kids back at the hotel with Gramme, I could keep celebrating!  I danced and danced and danced.  I even got Kris out on the dance floor.  Admittedly that’s not that hard to do when he’s had a couple drinks.  When we were finally kicked out of the reception (What?  Last call?  No more music?) we all went back to the hotel bar for some more celebrating.  A couple of my cousins had ordered pizza.  There was a pool table.  There was more alcohol flowing.  I guess my family wasn’t done partying yet!  I hit my wall at 2am and went to bed.  I was tired.  Kris?  Grandpa?  Mathias?  Not them!  Kris didn’t come to bed until 3:30am!

Let’s just say that at the 10am gift opening the next morning there were some tired people!  The coffee was in high demand.  The kids were well enough rested though.  I heard them up around 8:30am so that’s when I got up too.  At the gift opening they had fun playing with Gramme and Uncle Mathias.  Krystle and Pierce received some very nice gifts and the rest of us had fun looking through all the photobooth pictures.  After the gift opening Annika went home with Gramme.  She got a nice fun afternoon with lots of one on one attention.  James did too but with Daddy.  I laid down for a quick nap!  It wasn’t too long though because we had another party to attend!

With my aunt and uncle and cousins in town from North Carolina for the week, we had another family party Sunday afternoon so we could all spend more time with them.  We picked up Annika on the way there and then the kids had even more fun.  My aunt had rented a giant bounce house for all the kids.  I think Annika spent about the next 5 hours jumping in that thing.  She came out every so often to play on the swingset or get a drink but then she went right back in.  I spent my time eating (way too much!) and socializing.  I was too wiped from the weekend though so I mainly parked my butt and let people come to me.  Heh.  My one activity for the afternoon was a game of bean bag toss with my brother.  It was Kris and Mathias against myself and my cousin Grant.  I was talking trash, telling my brother I was going to beat him and then I did!  Hee!  He took that in stride – not letting me hug him congratulations after the game and then laughed at me and my silly antics as I went inside for more food.  And sitting.  Of course.  It was a fun evening.

Monday was our wedding anniversary.  Happy 7 years baby!  Since the weekend was so jam packed I took Monday off from work so Kris and I could spend some time together.  He got up early and went in to work so we could have our afternoon and evening free.  The kids slept in late (thank you!) and then we slowly got ourselves ready for the day.  Krystle and Pierce stopped over with Bailey (we’re puppy sitting this week while they’re honeymooning) and then the kids and I headed out.  Uncle Dale and Auntie Shelly graciously offered to babysit that day for us (as did Gramme and Grandpa) so Kris and I could have some couple time.  I dropped the kids off at their house (I could literally open the door and shove them out and they’d be happy.  I walked them in the door and James took off with Dale and Annika took off with Shelly.  They could care less if I was still there or not.  I at least got a good bye kiss from Annika.  James literally disappeared downstairs to the toys.)  and then headed for the airport.  I had big sister duties!  Mathias had rented a 2009 Camara for the weekend and had to bring it back to the rental car place.  I met him there and picked him up and drove him back out to Dad’s house.  Not only was this a nice thing to do (nothing is ever 100% altruistic) but I got some great one on one time with Mathias!  Win!  We talked about money, life, jobs, etc.  It was great.

As I was driving back home from Dad’s house Kris called from work.  He had more to do than he’d thought!  I ran home to let the dogs out and then picked Kris up from work.  We went to Big Bowl for lunch (Kris had never been there before – it was good!) and then back to Kris’s work.  He had another 1/2 hour or so to go.  I hung out at his desk and checked my e-mail.  Heh.  By this time it was 3pm!  He had put in almost a full day!  Instead of seeing a movie as was originally planned we went home and enjoyed the quiet.  We watched the Tour de France (Go Team Astana!  Lance!  Levi – poor Levi!  Go George Hincapie – not team Astana but overall good guy and great racer!)  and played Trivial Pursuit.  I won.  Again.  I was on a roll this weekend!.  Heh.

Then I went and picked up the kids and we had a family night together.

I started writing this blog entry on Monday.  It’s not Thursday and I think I’ve gone on long enough.  If you’ve made it this far – thank you!  Coming up is our annual BBQ on Saturday, another family party on Friday night and another family party on Sunday (this time it’s Kris’ family!).  We are not slowing down around here!

Busy As Always

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Another long absence from the blog.  Life has just been incredibly busy lately!  I’ve been feeling a little swamped.  My to do list is incomplete daily and tasks slide to the right.  Everything will be okay though.  I might just be a little tired for a few more days.  What have I been up to?  You’d think having a kid free weekend would have provided lots of rest.  Oh, the contrary!  Instead Kris and I worked, worked, worked all weekend.  We stained the deck, bought and planted a tree and did a bunch of painting and touch up painting in the house.  Of course the house is now in shambles and won’t get cleaned this week!  I hate looking at the clutter.  Drives me a little insane.  Makes me edgy.  Maybe I should stop blogging and go clean something, then huh?  Hogwash!  Have to get my feelings out!  Ha!

Sunday night the kids arrived home just in time for James and I to get to swimming lessons.  At first he didn’t want to get in the water (he had fallen asleep in the truck on the way there).  When he saw all the other kids though he was all for it.  The water was a little cold so the poor boy shivered for the first half of the class.  He’s still a star though, floating on his stomach and back, blowing bubbles, scoops, kicks, the works.  This week we also practiced jumping off the side and he thought that was great too!  At the very end he went down small waterslide twice.  The second time he threw the fit because I put him on the ladder.  Turns out he wanted to climb up the ladder himself, thankyouverymuch.  I let him and he climbed up and slid down all on his own into his teachers waiting arms.  Such a big boy.  While we were in the water I told him how much I had missed him while he was gone.  He told me he missed me too.  We cuddled for a second to help him warm up and then he lifted his head off my shoulder, looked at me and said “I missed Daddy too.”  Aahhh.  Melt.

Monday I came home from work to a greatly annoyed Kris and two whiny, non-listening children.  I’ve heard people call that grandparent fatigue.  They had a whole weekend of limited rules, undivided attention and general grandparent spoiling and it’s a rude awakening to have to come home and listen and behave and pick up toys and such.  They were better today and Kris even smiled when I got home from work.

Not much else is new with us lately.  Tonight the kids and I made cookies.  They both like helping crack the eggs and mix the batter.  And of course eating a cookie or two fresh out of the oven.  I like that part too.  The cookies turned out great and our neighbors enjoyed them too!

Vacation Recap

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Time for the Wisconsin Dells vacation recap! Let’s sum it up:

We had a great time. Annika wants to live there. James threw a huge tantrum when we had to leave. I hope to go back next summer. The end.

OK, OK, I doubt I’d get away with that recap. Gramme would be having none of that.

OK, let’s back up to Thursday. We were on the road by 12:45pm and drove to Hampton where Papa was nice enough to meet us. There we kissed Dagur good-bye and continued on to the Dells. We arrived at our hotel (The RainTree WaterPark Resort) about 5pm. Annika wanted to hit the pool as soon as we had all the bags in the room. We insisted on eating dinner first and she reluctantly agreed. Dinner was at the Pizza Pub. Yummy pizza! To offset the wait time until our food came I took the kids to the lobby where there was some arcade games. Annika’s learning that games take money to work. I liked it when she could move the joystick or steering wheel and think she was playing! Eventually we found a couple Dells magazines with lots of pictures of fun places to go and things to do. Back at the table we looked through those.

After dinner of course we had to go to the pool for a while. The pool area (both indoors and outdoors) is geared for children 10 and under and was perfect for us. There were tons of small slides for the kids along with water fountains, climbing structures and other fun things. And the water was warm! I hate cold pool water so I really appreciated the warm water. They even had lifeguards on duty. Nice.

Friday we went to Noah’s Ark Waterpark. We had such a great day! The place is huge, over 70,000 acres of waterpark fun. There are a ton of little kid places, at least 4 that I can think of off the top of my head. Plus, there were a few larger waterslides that the kids could go on with us. And boy did we! Up the stairs (sometimes 4 stories!), down the slide, rinse and repeat over and over. Luckily the kids both liked a couple blue waterslides in particular so we rode those more than any other attraction. Another thing was there were practically no lines for any attraction! We’d climb up, ride down, no waiting. I couldn’t believe that! It was the day before the 4th and I figured the place would be busier for the holiday weekend. I think we lucked out. Since we got there shortly after the park opened we got a choice parking spot right near the entrance. We didn’t want to give it up to leave for lunch so instead Kris walked across the street to our hotel and got our leftover pizza out of the refrigerator in our hotel room. Lunch was served! Ha. After lunch Kris took Annika on a ride called the Stingray. Basically they push you over a ledge 4 stories up in a 2 person raft and you slide down to the bottom then up the other side and swing back and forth until your momentum takes you to the bottom and you’re done. I couldn’t believe she went on that! There’s no way I would have gone on that ride! You could tell she was scared. Her eyes were like saucers when they were done. I praised her bravery and then asked if she wanted to do it again. She said yes! So they went again. She said the ride made her stomach feel funny. I’m sure it did! It was a great day. I hope we can go back again sometime. After dinner we vegged out in the room with tv and movies.

Saturday was a less physically exhausting day. We went to Pirate’s Cove and played a round of mini golf. It was the kids’ first time ever playing mini golf. We started off trying to show them the right way to hold the club but they really didn’t care about that. After a couple holes we just let them whack at their ball (we actually said “OK, your turn. Go whack your ball!”) until they got it in the hole. Annika started doing her own technique (hold the club between your legs like you would a basketball “granny” shot) and “push” the ball to the hole. After six holes they were both done and turned their balls over to Kris. Kris and I finished the course and then we went to the Family Fun Center there. That was a hit for all of us I think. It was small but at only $3/kid I thought the price was right. There was a pedal push cart course (too big for our kids right now) and a couple jump basketball spots. The big hit though was the jumping pillow. Think cross between trampline and bounce house and there you have it. It’s basically a bounce house without walls. All around the pillow is a 3-4’ wide area of sand for anyone who bounces or rolls off the pillow. And it was big enough (15×30’ or so) that Kris and I and the kids were all on there. We bounced the kids all over the place until they had enough. Heh.

That afternoon while James napped (OK, and me too) Kris took Annika to the hotel pool. They were gone for two hours and I’m sure they had a blast.

We found some fireworks fonSaturday night too. Boy, did we find fireworks! We called the front desk of our hotel to find out the place to go and she said the outlet mall parking lot next to the three big hotels (Kalahari, Wilderness, Great Wolf) as they all do fireworks shows. So we drive over and find the mall and find a good parking spot. As we’re parking a guy driving a golf cart comes over and says we’re in the drop zone for fireworks and we need to move 40 feet over to the next lot instead. OK, we do. There the Wilderness fireworks are slightly obscured by trees so we all 4 climb up on top of the Blazer and sit on the roof. How exciting! The Wilderness fireworks are cool and the Kalahari ones have started. They’re great too and we’re so close to those! Pretty soon another guy in a golf cart comes over and says our vehicle is fine but we need to move 20-30 feet away from the truck. We’re still in the drop zone apparently. So we climb down and walk over to a nearby grassy area where other people are. We continue watching the Kalahari fireworks when the Timber Wolf fireworks start – right near where our truck was first parked! We’re only 30 yards or so from the fireworks! We can see the guys running around lighting the fireworks with their torches. We can see the flames as they take off to the sky. And boy were they loud! Annika covered her ears for the remainder of the night. Jamesy didn’t mind the noise though and snuggled in and watched them while I held him. He did require though that I ooh after each one exploded. He’s so cute sometimes.

Sunday we spent another hour and a half in the hotel pool before packing up the truck and heading out. The kids’ favorite part of the hotel pool was an area with floating foam pieces (2-3’ in diameter) with a rope hanging over it. You had to hang on to the rope and walk across the foam to the other side. Both kids loved that and did it over and over again. Jamesy thought it was fun to go the first foam piece or two and then “fall” off and plop in the water. He also got pretty comfortable in his life jacket and would “swim” by himself back over to the side. He’s pretty good at using his arms and legs to propel himself around the pool. We also got both kids to jump off the side of the pool into our arms. Annika was even asking me to back up so she could jump higher and longer.

Jamesy was not happy about leaving and threw a huge tantrum. I left him in the hallway and walked to the front desk to check out (he was just around the corner, within earshot – I could hear him wailing). Kris and Annika came back inside from the last suitcase trip out and took James outside to calm him down. He was NOT happy.

We got him settled down though and went back to the outlet mall for a bit of shopping before our long drive home. The first store we went to was the Nike outlet. Annika was so cute. She insisted that we buy her a running shirt and running shoes so she could go running with Mommy. So we did. Hey, you have to cultivate that love of exercise early, right?! She got a cute pink Nike t-shirt on clearance for $6 and some new sneakers (she really needed some anyway) on sale for $10! Score! Jamesy also got new sneakers (he needed some even more – his were completely worn out) on sale for $20.

On our way down the mall to other stores Annika spied Claire’s. And insisted we go there. She was with Kris at the time and he had no interest in going to Claire’s of course. I was in Banana Republic at the time (found a great dress!). When I was done there Kris and James took off down to the “boy” stores and Annika and I went to Claire’s. It was like she was in little girl nirvana. She wanted to buy everything in that store. I got out of there with $18 of crap, I mean treasures. She got lip gloss, eye shadow play make-up, hair bow barrettes and neon jelly bracelets. And she was completely in love with all of it.

We finally got in the truck and started our drive home, a nice quiet drive. Both kids fell asleep for most of the drive. Three or so hours later we arrived at Great Papa’s house where Nana and Papa were with Dagur. The kids were spoiled with ice cream and fresh picked raspberries. And Annika and Nana got out the new eye shadow and played with that. Pretty soon Annika and I had jelly bracelets and hair bows (done at the mall) and eye shadow (done at Great Papa’s). We were all spiffed up!

About 7:30pm Sunday night we finally arrived home. Kris went out for a bike ride, the kids watched a movie with popcorn (they are on a huge Care Bears kick right now) and mom decompressed all by herself.

And that was our first family vacation. It was so fun and I’m already mentally planning our next one! (Maybe El Paso to visit Uncle Mathias next spring break??)

Monday night I went with Krystle to an alterations appointment for her wedding dress. I was able to see the whole ensemble and she looks fantastic! So beautiful. Her dress needs some final tweaks and will be ready this weekend for her. The wedding is getting close! I’m starting my list of what to bring Friday and Saturday. There’s so much to think of and remember to bring!